Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

PHD - Doctor of Philosophy


Expressive Therapies


The author evaluated a private school’s art program in 2009-2010 that used Daily Life Therapy (DLT) for students diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Significant increases in numbers of persons diagnosed with ASD have been noted in the last two decades. Several methodologies claim success in programming for children with ASD, but lack empirically based research and it is unclear which are most beneficial. This program evaluation used a mixed-method design to address the following questions: (1) is there evidence of success with the art experience goals and objectives in the art products, (2) what is the experience of the art education staff facilitating this technique, and (3) is there evidence overall that the art program meets its stated goals? The study focused on 26 culturally diverse students diagnosed with ASD, ranging between the ages of 8-14 years (27% female, 73% male). The study focused on two analyses; (1) analysis of six art products per child at three times of the year were rated specifically for art lessons’ goals and objectives, by two independent raters, and (2) analysis of interview data where teachers were questioned about the DLT method in art instruction. Data revealed: participants performed significantly (draw, p < .01 and color, p <.001) better at midyear than in the fall or early summer; a significant (p < .01) increase of teacher prompts for artworks at midyear was also evident; and results indicated differences between groups defined by Childhood Autism Rating Scale Second Edition (Schopler, Reichler & Rochen-Renner, 2010) score and age, but only for drawing tasks. Analysis of the interview data indicated emphasis placed on the following themes: (1) opportunities through an individualized method (f= 31%), (2) consistency through prompt assistance and active participation (f= 52%) and (3) improvement in relationships and connection to the greater world (f= 16%). The combined results were mixed. While teachers reported and described dedication to the method, quantitative data did not clearly reflect meeting program goals and objectives, and record-keeping issues appeared to be a key factor. The findings showed the necessity for improving programming for students diagnosed on the autism spectrum.

Number of Pages


Included in

Art Therapy Commons




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